Anger is an emotion like fear, happiness, sadness, and many others. It’s like a thermometer that lets us know how we are doing and alerts us that something is wrong. But like all things, sometimes they need to be interrogated because as sinners we do, think, feel, and say things that we ought not to. If you struggle with anger, read on for 11 anger management tips to help you overcome.We need to keep a constant eye on our reactions to the feelings that we feel. One verse in the Bible says, “In your anger do not sin” (Ephesians 4:26), and this lets us know that there’s a difference between feeling anger and following wherever that anger leads.
While not expressing anger isn’t healthy, far too often people hurt others through their words or actions performed in anger. Relationships, lives, and property often become the casualties of unbridled anger. It is important to find ways to make sure that when we feel anger, we express it in ways that won’t bring harm to ourselves or other people.
As with most things in life, we can put things in place to help us deal with a situation before it becomes a problem. It’s also important to develop the skills and tools we need to deal with a situation when it arises.
The anger management tips below give a good mix of tools you can use to deal with anger before it becomes a problem. They also provide some other tools for handling it when you find yourself in situations where anger flares up.
11 Anger Management Tips
Here are eleven anger management tips to help you manage your anger and express it in healthy ways:
1. Take a second.
Often, when someone cuts you off in traffic or says something hurtful, it’s good to just take a second. Anger usually causes our bodies to react physically. Our hearts beat faster, and our breathing becomes more shallow and rapid.This prepares the body for action – for fight-or-flight. In anger, we typically react by fighting, either with our words or our bodies. A useful skill to learn, albeit one which takes discipline, is to learn to walk away. You don’t have to engage. Take a second to breathe, taking in deep breaths through your nose and exhaling slowly through your mouth.
Controlling your breathing allows your body to return to a state of calm. An alternative to controlled breathing is to count slowly to ten. Just taking a few seconds when something triggering happens gives you space to react thoughtfully and calmly, which can make all the difference in the world.
2. Get some exercise.
Exercise works great to reduce the stress that can cause you to get angry. Physical exercise releases endorphins which can bring a sense of well-being. Going for a run or a brisk walk when you’re feeling angry can be helpful. Whatever form of exercise you find enjoyable, and your doctor has cleared you for, go for it.
In addition to taking a second in a moment when anger threatens to flare up, being deliberate about relaxing can help you to better deal with anger. Take time during your day, especially those high-stress times, for short breaks.
This gives you room to decompress and destress. Tools such as progressive muscle relaxation, meditation, or relaxing music can help you to relieve stress periodically and regularly so that it doesn’t build up anger.
4. Write it out.
Sometimes when you’re feeling angry, rather than expressing it to the person directly, write what you’re feeling and put it into a journal, letter, or email, but don’t immediately post or send it, however. The process of expressing yourself can be cathartic, and in some cases, after you’ve expressed yourself, you’re able to view your anger and the situation more objectively.
Perhaps you’ll decide that you are right to be angry, but you may choose to express it differently. Or you may realize that your anger was based on an assumption and it may be wise to ask a few clarifying questions before choosing a course of action.
5. Find possible solutions.
Sometimes we repeatedly get angry over the same things. There may be a consistency to the things that anger you, and your primary way of dealing with it is to get angry. Perhaps instead of directing your energy towards your anger, taking the time to brainstorm practical solutions to the situation may be more productive.
If traffic is bad at a certain time of day, perhaps you can arrange to leave work a little earlier, leave later or try a different route home. Another possibility is to carpool so that someone else will do the driving.
6. Don’t jump to conclusions.
Sometimes when we are quick to get angry, we forget other faculties such as good and empathetic listening. When we make assumptions about what other people have said or done, anger seems justified. It’s wise to not assume you know the other person’s motives or reasons for what they said or did. Instead, wait to ask them what they meant before you choose to get angry.
7. Think before you speak.
When we speak out of anger, there’s no telling what could come out of our mouths. Our words can be biting, and even humor can come out as hurtful sarcasm when anger has taken hold. Thinking before you speak, not rushing to give voice to our thoughts when we are angry, will help us avoid saying something in the moment that we regret long afterward.
8. Use “I” statements.When we place blame or criticize others, that increases tension and the temperature in the room. Instead, use ‘I’ statements that are clear and describe the issue. So instead of saying, “You always disrespect me when you talk”, it’s far more helpful to be specific by saying, “I’m upset because I felt disrespected when you made a joke about my weight in front of your friend.”
This addresses the specific issue and gives the other person room to speak to your concerns; blame and criticism generally work to make others defensive, which can cause the situation to escalate.
9. Express your anger when you’re calm.
Anger should be expressed, but in such a way that it doesn’t end up harming you or others. Express your anger when you’re calm—be frank, assertive, clear, and direct. But avoid trying to control others or hurt them with your words and remember that there is a difference between being assertive and being aggressive and confrontational.
10. Learn to let go.
Holding onto past hurts might lead you to build a reservoir of resentment that gets easily and quickly tapped into when you are angry. Resentment can lead to bitterness which can be corrosive to your mental wellness. Learning to let go of grudges or slights enables you to refrain from dwelling on past issues that could trigger future anger. Learning to forgive people can be incredibly freeing so that resentment, which can lead to anger, does not build up.
11. Ask for help.
No emotion should dominate our lives. Anger can become such a regular feature of our life that our identity becomes tied up with it. That anger affects relationships, undermines mental and physical health, and doesn’t please the Lord.
“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for human anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires,” writes James in his letter to believers (James 1:19-20).
If anger is an emotion you are struggling to control and express safely, seeking professional help for anger management can help you and the people in your life. Knowing when to seek help and speaking to a mental health professional such as a counselor or psychotherapist is a great first step. They may help you with coping techniques and problem-solving skills, in addition to digging into your relationships and history to unearth the roots of your anger problem.
If you need additional support beyond the anger management tips in this article, feel free to contact me or one of the other counselors in the counselor directory.
“Fighting Mad”, Courtesy of Alessandro Bellone, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Storm”, Courtesy of Michael Shannon, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Blank Journal”, Courtesy of Jan Kahanek, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Lightning”, Courtesy of Ali Arif Soydas, Unsplash.com, CC0 License